Post-Soviet Universities and the American Perspective

I have never felt more spoiled and understood why people have this love-hate relationship with the United States until I walked into a classroom in the country of Georgia. I came with a group of about 18 other students from various majors for a two-week immersion on the geopolitical importance Georgia in the South Caucasus region. Yet I found myself in “classroom shock.”

The university we studied at was nearing its centennial birthday. Tbilisi State University has stood since 1918 – even under Soviet occupation – and, believe me, the classrooms show it. The entire place is always under construction. The rooms vary from chalkboard and bench seating in dark rooms where the air lingers of mildew to some of the nicer rooms.

These nicer rooms are equipped with white erase boards with a drop down projector and monitor. The money used to fund these newer classrooms comes from funding SDSU received from the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to improve the STEM programs at TSU and at two other campuses in Georgia. We learned a lot about how SDSU and MCC came to partner and how they plan on furthering STEM education in Georgia.

I think this program is a great idea. It’s nice to see SDSU venturing outside wealthier countries (Western Europe, for instance) to build partnerships and make a difference. Not only is the Caucasus Mountains region in desperate need for some love by the U.S., the education system here can only benefit from American influence.

I hope these pictures explain why:

Typical classroom found at TSU.
Typical classroom found at TSU.
Typical classroom found at TSU.
Typical classroom found at TSU.
Best room at TSU (funded by SDSU).

Vicky Madera is an international security and conflict resolution senior. She is travelling this summer on a faculty-led program in Georgia.


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